I'll be honest, I'm not the biggest on sports. I grew up playing minor soccer and baseball but the older I grew, the less I played. I gravitated more towards music and comics. As we've evolved this show into more of pop culture versus just news on movies and comics, I knew it was only a matter of time when I would be covering aspects of pop culture that I'm less passionate about. Sports being one of them, basketball takes center stage for this review.
Uncle Drew tells the story of Dax, played by Get Out's Lil Rel Howery, recruiting a team of classic basketball players to win the coveted Rucker Tournament and its' cash prize. If I'm honest, Howery was one of my favorite parts of last year's Get Out; I would even goes as far as to say he probably stole the show for me. So I was really excited to see what he could do with a leading role. Howery nails it. His comedic timing is almost always on point and he proves he can hold us own in a film with names like Shaq & Mike Epps. The downside to his performance though is his relationship with Tiffany Haddish's "Jess". The chemisty between the two feels forced, unnatural and completely over the top. Out of everything this movie offers, Haddish's performance really does over stay her welcome. She adds nothing to the story and slows the film down in its' delivery.
The pacing of the film is usually a slam dunk most of the time. Aside from a few sequences like a dance-off or Shaq's "Big Fella" trying to find a TV; the film does pace itself pretty well. It does find itself running about 20 minutes too long though. Again, it's mostly due to these sequences and a lot of the opening (and elsewhere random) scene (s) dealing with Jess & Dax.
Another downside to this film is unfortunately some of it's makeup effects. Given that a lot of the main cast is younger playing older. Again, it's right in the middle. It almost feels like this film couldn't just pick one extreme or the other. Practical effects work wonders on aging Reggie Miller's "Lights", Lisa Leslie's "Betty Lou"& Nate Robinson's "Boots". While, make up for the other members including Kyrie Irving's "Uncle Drew", Shaq's "Big Fella" & especially Chris Webber's "Preacher" are the worst offenders. Half the main cast has subtle makeup and you honestly can't really tell; while the other half just feels lazy and rushed.
I will end on a solid note though. This film has surprisingly a lot of heart. What I walked in for was a basketball movie similar to that of Like Mike or Space Jam. What I got was something else entirely. I can't even begin to emphasize how well the arcs of Dax, Uncle Drew & Big Fella are handled in this film. The moments that warm your heart are too many to count.
Overall, Uncle Drew misses the mark on being this generation's Like Mike or Space Jam; but it is loaded down with great humor, heart and a solid lead in Lil Rel Howery. The performance of Howery makes me anxious to see what he's got up his sleeve next. However, it is loaded down with some bad technical effects, pacing issues and unneeded characters. Yet it's still a fun and entertaining film nonetheless.
Final Score - 3/5
Uncle Drew is property of Summit/Lionsgate; Images used in this article below to their respective studios.